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The Word on the Week

The Sands of Time are Sinking

The equinox tides of September, washed the upper reaches of the beach, eradicating the last traces of holiday-makers’ footprints. When we saw this we understood that Summer was over! The winter storms that deposited the sand could with equal ease remove it leaving the harbour full of seaweed and pebbles.

Sand is in the news. According to a recent United Nations report on the world consumption of aggregates we are consuming twice as much sand as natural erosion can produce. Our love of concrete has created this shortage as builders and developers continue to concrete over the world!

Sand and gravel quarries are being worked out. The two million tonnes scooped out of Loch Neagh annually cannot go on indefinitely. Sea sand, whilst good in texture, requires to be washed to remove the salt. Even when washed it retains some chloride which rusts the steel reinforcing bars causing spalling.

What about the Sahara Desert? Surely there are enough deserts in the world to keep the cement mixers going for a long time? Unfortunately, desert sand is the wrong texture. It has been blown by the wind making it too smooth and rounded to make concrete.
Research has been carried out by Irish and Welsh authorities into sand extraction from the Irish Sea. This would provide us with a partial solution but care is required not to disturb the underwater ecosystems. The European Union is taking measures to protect the spawning and nursery beds of fish and shellfish. These will curtail the areas available for dredging or sucking sand from the seabed.

The bible takes the smallness of a grain of sand and uses it to indicate the vastness of the number of grains on the seashore. It prophesies that Abraham’s descendants would become a multitude which is what his new name ‘Abraham’ means. It likens his descendants to the sands of the seashore Genesis Chapter 22 verse 17.
According to St Paul, if you are a believer sharing Abraham’s faith, then you too are one of these grains of sand – one of the great crowd from every nation that cannot be numbered (Galatians Chapter 3 verses 7 to 9).

Jesus makes use of sands instability for building upon. At the conclusion of his Sermon on the Mount he summed up his hearers into two groups. Likening his teachings to a new house he said the builders should build it on a solid foundation of rock (himself) and it would stand firm.
On the other hand, those who continued with the old house (probably the Pharisees, their followers and the Temple) were building on sand and, in due course it would fall, which the Temple did around 40AD (St Matthew Chapter 7 verses 24 to 27).
So put your ‘grain of sand’ to good use by following Jesus teachings!